Rejoice Boston Red Sox Fans: The American League East Race Is Over

Mark L.Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Is this real life?

Do the Boston Red Sox really hold a 5.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays?

Only 10 games ago, the Sox looked like a deer in headlights, as the Rays passed them by a .5 game in the American League East for the first time in months. They seemed to accept the inevitable, taking solace in the fact that at least they had two wild-card spots to strive for, with a few games of wiggle room to work with.

Then the Rays fell apart, going 2-8 over a 10 game span during one of the season’s most critical stretches. Their offense has been miserable as James Loney and Jose Lobaton have finally come back to Earth, scoring only 2.6 runs per game over that span. Without Matt Moore (injury) and Jeremy Hellickson (demoted because of ineffectiveness) to solidify their rotation, the Rays have not been able to pick up the slack with their starting pitching — interesting because that’s one of the team’s strengths. Jamey Wright and the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona are less than reputable starting pitchers at this point in the season.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, have flourished, going 8-2 over that same time-frame. The pitching has been excellent during the streak, from the starters to Koji Uehara‘s dominance at the back end, holding opponents to (oddly enough) only 2.6 runs per game. Jon Lester has been a quality start machine of late and has allowed only eight earned runs in his last 42 innings. And Uehara hasn’t given up an earned run in two months.

Now the Rays have to fight with what seems like eight other teams for the two wild card spots with a multitude of tough divisional games with the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles down the stretch.

Translation: Smooth sailing for the Red Sox and trouble for the Rays.

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